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UNLV Students stand together against terrorism

By Ben Dimalibot
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Recent terror attacks, like the one in Paris, continue to make headlines in the news and social media outlets. To show support, respect and unity for the victims, Facebook created a filter to superimpose the French flag on its users’ profile photos. Some have since opposed this idea as it has given too much attention to one tragedy among several that have occurred around the world.

To address this issue and many others, a group of UNLV students formed Our State, Our Stand Together Against Terrorism and Extremism, a campaign with the message “I/We Are Human” as part of an initiative sponsored by EdVenture Partners worldwide. There are 11 Integrated Marketing Communications students competing with 44 universities across the nation for an opportunity to be adopted and implemented by the U.S. Department of State, said Wanda Callejo, content writer for Our State.

On November 18 and 19, over 30 students attended a focus group by Our State at Greenspun Hall. In an open forum, participants were encouraged to share their opinions and knowledge about terrorism, ISIS, humanity, global threats and the Paris attacks.

“For this focus group we wanted to get some feedback,” Callejo said. “To see what people think ISIS is and if they think that something like “I Am Human” would actually affect them and participate in that.”

Students from a wide range of departments, from communications to civil engineering, participated in the focus group.

“A lot of people don’t really know what ISIS stands for,” said Lucas Feitosa, a civil engineering major. “This campaign is good with a lot of potential.”

Religion and Islamophobia were among the topics covered in the focus group. There was a discussion about how terror attacks in western countries have a greater impact in society.

“The threat is bigger in cities where people wouldn’t think it would happen there,” one participant said. “The bigger the city, the bigger the impact.”

Some of the members of the group had strong feelings about the French flag on people’s Facebook profile photos.

“I didn’t do it because there were so many other attacks in the world and there was no awareness for that,” one participant said. “I show my support in other ways; I don’t need to show it with a flag.”

The conversation covered finding ways to stop ISIS, and how to prevent and respond to people who agree with and are interested in joining ISIS.

Myra Weaver spoke to the focus group about the “I/We Are Human” campaign.                 (Photo by Ben Dimalibot)

“The goal of ISIS is to make people morally obligated to fight with them, especially against western cultures,” said Myra Weaver, a member of the content and research team for Our State. “A lot of people who are joining ISIS stem from the fact that western cultures discriminate against stereotypes.”

Our State plans to host another event on campus to raise awareness about their cause, and post white boards all over Las Vegas for people to write messages about what it means to be human. Individuals who are interested in supporting the campaign are invited to complete an online survey at ourst8.com and follow their social media accounts.

All contents and materials of the campaign is due on Dec. 1. Three groups will be chosen to speak and present their campaign in Washington, D.C.

“What we are seeking to do with this campaign is to compare human commonalities and break cultural stereotypes, which are all factors in violence, what terrorism is,” Weaver said. “The biggest push in our campaign is to remind people that we are all human.”

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